==== ====1 Wierd News They Dont You To Know...http://tweespi.com/socialmediaguide==== ====Once thought to be a passing fad, and although still relatively new, social media is now taking afirm hold and warrants attention in many retailers online marketing efforts.You cant avoid it. No matter where you turn it seems you hear terms like "fan page", "followers","tweet", "re-tweet", "blog" and more being used. With all the social media hype, many arequestioning what social media actually is and how they can use it to move their business forward.In this article I am going to explain what social media is, provide some strategies for making yoursite more social media friendly, touch upon differences between options presented by major socialmedia outlets, and answer the question of whether you should do it yourself, or hire a consultant todo it for you.Social Media can be time consuming, but when implemented correctly can add a level to yourbusiness that helps build brand loyalty, and awareness which in turn can boost your bottom line.What is Social Media?Wikipedia defines social media as: media designed to be disseminated through social interaction,created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internetand web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into socialmedia dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information,transforming people from content consumers into content producers.In other words, it is a group of Internet-based applications that utilize new web concepts topromote user generated content.Examples of some of the major social applications currently online are Twitter, Facebook, andYouTube.Twitter can be seen as a "micro blog" type service that enables you to post short messages of upto 140 characters that are fed in real time to your followers. Facebook is more of a "publishing"platform which enables you to create a page that integrates multiple media options into one (i.e.discussion boards, blogs, photos, shopping carts, etc...) YouTube is a service that enables you toproduce video content to the masses (possibly to demonstrate the use of your product.)The power and uniqueness of each provides pros and cons. Because Facebook has a little moreof a learning curve to it and because it has a number of options to choose from, Ill briefly touchupon that below.
Simple Tricks to Make Your Site More Social Media FriendlyWhether or not youre on social media platforms or not, odds are youre customers are. Theyresharing your URL with their friends on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn orMySpace.If you want to engage in social media marketing, youll want to be sure to have that presencereflected on your e-commerce site.Social SharingThere are dozens of sites you can visit that will provide embeddable code which can be used tocreate social networking icons on your site. These icons make it easy for visitors to share whatthey like about your site with their social media friends and followers.A couple of sites worth checking out are ShareThis. ShareThis is a tool you can install on your sitethat makes it easier for visitors to share with their network. Youve probably seen some form ofShareThis on news sites. There are typically several icons spread out in a horizontal line orgrouped together under a header of "Share." Installing this tool lets your visitors easily spread theword via social networking sites about a page or website - yours - they like.Add This is very similar to ShareThis. Both require site registration and a little publisherinformation, but both are also easy to use and do basically the same thing.Show off your Social Media presenceIf youre on several social networking sites, it behooves you to display that affiliation somewhereon your site. For the consummate online shopper, these links show youre not just an e-commercebeginner. The more social media sites youre a part of, the more web-knowledgeable you look andthe greater brand awareness you can build.You can display your social media links either in self-created sidebar module or by using sites likeLijit ( http://www.lijit.com ). Lijit is similar to ShareThis; however, rather than pushing people outsocial networking sites, Lijit pulls them into your other sites.Facebook Fan Page or Group?A question that often gets asked when it comes to Facebook and brands is should you build aFacebook Group Page or a Fan Page?It is a good question and the answer depends mostly on what your plans are for your site. Ivebroken down the pros and cons of both a fan page versus a group page below.Facebook Fan PageFacebook Fan Pages are a great option for brands - including e-commerce sites - that plan onposting information at least once a week.Facebook Fan Page Pros:* Looks polished; closely resembles an individual profile page
* Can include videos, photos, links, events, etc.* Can be fed into "fans" update stream similar to an individual profile update* Can be given a customized url similar to an individual profile* Hides the name and address of the page creator* Offers options to add applications such as a Twitter feed* Includes a "wall" similar to individual profiles that people can post comments on* Can be paired with a Facebook Fan Page Widget on your siteFacebook Fan Page Cons:* More difficult to manage conversations between fans* Conversations are on display for the public to see* Unable to convert Facebook Groups to Fan Pages if youve already got a Group page set up* Until you have an adequate number of fans, youll be posting a lot* A dismal Fan Page linked to your site can hurt your inbound links in SEOFacebook Group PageFacebook Group pages are easy to create and slightly more personal than a Fan Page. Because itis not a constantly fed profile-like page, posts do not need to be as often.Facebook Group Pros* Can be more intimate; people see who created the group* Still allows for pictures, photos, videos, events, etc. to be posted* Allows for emails to be sent to all group members* Pre-dates Fan Pages; more familiarity among early adopters of FacebookFacebook Group Cons* Visitors must visit your group page for updates* Does not allow applications to be added to the group page
* Offers visibility* Will automatically post related groups to your group page whether you want them or not* Cannot be linked to your site via widget(s)The Verdict? Consider a Facebook Fan Page if you want to keep your "fans" up to date on thegoings on of your site. Consider a Group if you have a niche within your site that people mightwant to create conversations about.Should You Hire a Social Media Consultant for Your Site?With the hundreds of social sites and applications available, its easy to get overwhelmed. Whenyoure already trying to keep your e-commerce business afloat, social media can seemunnecessary and time-consuming.Research has shown, however, that e-commerce retailers are reaping the benefits of this newmedia channel (i.e., offering better customer service and increased sales) so it pays to use it.Not everyone is social media savvy nor do they have the time which is why a lot of companies hireconsultants to help them with their campaigns.Do you need a consultant or should you do your own work?When to hire a social media consultant:* If you really do not have the time to commit to a social marketing campaign.* If you dont have the time to learn the ins and outs of social applications.* If you dont consider yourself a strong writer and/or interactive with your audience.* If you want to launch a large social media campaign and need experts to help get things off theground.* If you tend to defer project work to experts rather than attempt to try it yourself.When to do your own social media work:* If youre familiar with social media sites (like YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook) and usethem on a personal basis.* If youre a quick-learner and tech-savvy.* If youre planning a small campaign with only one or two social sites.* If you have content ready to post on a blog (or Twitter, Facebook, etc.)Note: Social media consultants tend to pay per project or per hour depending on their rates andavailability.What Weve LearnedSocial media seems to be here to stay. It most certainly will evolve and change as time goes, butyou can be sure that in one form or another social media will continue. Its much like the TV or
radio were when they began and the power it harnesses for those who use it will shine through.It can bring awareness to your product or brand and help you build a stronger relationship withyour customers which can lead to greater sales and future growth for your business.Having said that, keep in mind that social media can be time consuming and integrating a socialmedia marketing campaign into your business should not be taken lightly. Proper planning andimplementation is critical to your success-you may even want to consider hiring an expert tohandle it for you. This will largely depend on your needs, budget, and time you have to allocateyour own resources to getting the job done in-house.When it comes to Facebook and the choice between creating a Fan Page or a Group, youll wantto consider your objective before you determine which is best for you. Fan Pages are best forpushing brands and for ecommerce sites that can commit to posting at least once per week.Consider a Facebook Group if you want a more personal touch and if you cant commit to postingat least once per week.Integrating social media into your site is easy. There are sites that provide the code and icons foryou to simply paste into your web structure. Once you are utilizing social media make sure youdisplay it on your site so customers know where to find you.Remember, social media is a tool that can push your business and brand forward. Plan carefullyand choose wisely. Like those that harnessed the power of TV and radio, social media adopterswill see the benefits with time.Eric Leuenberger is an ecommerce conversion expert and author of a leading Ecommerce blog athttp://www.zencartoptimization.com. His online coaching system, Ecommerce Amplifierhttp://www.ecommerceamplifier.com, helps you increase your ecommerce sales by walking youthrough his proven six step process. He has helped store owners generate over $10 Million inrevenue and counting. Will you be next?Article Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Eric_Leuenberger